Wedding bells ring at art museum steps for same-sex couple
The clock struck midnight at the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Ashley Wilson and partner Lindsay Vandermay – now Wilson – were ready. They would be the first same-sex couple to get married in Philadelphia, if not the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
A glow radiated around them and the estimated 30 people that surrounded the soon-to-be wives.
A similar glow hung directly behind them - the orange glow of the clock atop City Hall where the two obtained a marriage license on Tuesday.
Lindsay and Ashley Wilson, both 29 of Fairmount, were one of the first couples to obtain their marriage license after U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III made the decision to strike down Pennsylvania’s 1996 ban on same-sex marriages.
“The idea of being the first couple to do this, we thought it was something special,” said Ashley Wilson.
The couple made history as one of the first same-sex couples to get their license in Pennsylvania. As with any marriage license, it took three days until their partnership could be legitimized, the reason why the couple decided to get married the literal first minute they could.
The two arrived with family and friends just 15 minutes before midnight, greeting each other all once again when reunited at the top of the steps with shrieks of celebration as the city skyline acted as a backdrop.
They posed for pictures like celebrities as the guests at their last-minute wedding snapped photographs left and right while they fixed hair affected by the high humidity.
When it turned midnight, Judge Diana Louise Anhalt began to read her script. And when she read, "What we do today is in conformity with the laws of Pennsylvania," roars erupted. Cheers and claps echoed throughout the top of the museum steps and onlookers joined in the celebration.
"It's an honor to be a part of such a historic moment for Pennsylvania," Anhalt said.
But as with any state, there was a chance of an appeal.
“I thought, ‘Let’s go before someone changes their mind,’” joked Ashley Wilson. “That’s why we rushed [to City Hall] as fast as we could – it was almost too good to be true.”
And on Wednesday, Gov. Tom Corbett announced that he wouldn’t appeal the ruling, despite his strong stance against the issue during his campaign, meaning that Pennsylvania is the 19th state in the country, and last in the Northeast, to legalize gay marriage.
And just in time for wedding season.
Lindsay and Ashley Wilson had been planning an elaborate wedding aside from their impromptu ceremony. In mid-June, they had plans to travel down the East Coast to the Outer Banks for a destination wedding on the beach, with a stop in Delaware to legalize their marriage.
But history interrupted their plans. The two, who were born and raised in Pennsylvania, said they wanted to get married in the place they call home.
“This is about love in Philly and things coming together for Pennsylvania and it’s perfect for us,” said Lindsay Wilson.
Their formal marriage is the start of many. The judges of the First Judicial District will perform ceremonies at City Hall on Friday from noon until 2 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until noon.
But as far as the art museum location goes, it was both their ideas. Lindsay Wilson said the “monumental location” was perfect for the “monumental event.”
“I mean, I feel like a normal person,” Lindsay Wilson said. “Ash and I feel like we’re just normal people and now something great happened to Pennsylvania that we can be a part of.”